A plea

Stop
Worrying
About being a friend,
And being accepted as a friend,
And friendships unraveling before you as a roll of ribbon,
And you try to put it back together neatly and the way it was before but once unwound the ribbon doesn’t take,
Doesn’t want to take, never wanted to be
A part of the roll anyway,
It just wanted to tie to something else, or to hang by itself,
To do anything but be taped to a cardboard circle.
Stop.
Stop looking at motive.
Stop trying to understand why the ribbon is on the roll,
And start
Focusing
On getting to know
Those you care about.
Friendship will follow,
If it chooses to.
And if it doesn’t,
You’ve still got
Stories.
You’ve still got
A strong surface
For another ribbon to grab hold.
You’ve still got
You,
And if you can’t handle air being the only thing around you,
Then you should be
Worrying
About more than ribbon.

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Night Terrors

It starts with a tightness:
You wake to feel your heart
Coming out of your chest,
As if manipulated by some unseen force–
And that is what you believe,
If only for a moment,
As you’re sprinting down the hall,
Legs caught up in bedsheets,
Slowly embarrassing yourself into stopping
Before you reach the stairs.
Sometimes you manage.

And then it’s back to bed,
Forget, forget,
Do what you can to become unimportant again,
Don’t let yourself be the center of attention
In this darkened, quiet room–
Let other things take precedence,
Like sleep, and peace,
Not turbulence and fear and
Worry for your sanity.
Let dreams rise above, let sleep take over.
Rest now — you are more useful that way.
Let the clock tick by unnoticed,
Let tomorrow be
The next moment
In your mind.
It’s over now

–though there’s no guarantee,
For the moment you sleep is the moment you’ll be
Attacked again by your own anxiety.
If it happens again, please don’t jump out of bed,
Just breathe and wake up, and get out of your head.
You felt an effect and created a cause,
But you can’t work out truth
While running down halls,
Or gathering items to save
From your crumbling house–
Or perhaps from yourself–
Or panicking over
Indecipherable events
That only exist
In your head.

Dear heart,
My dearest, only heart,
Please stop rousing me in the middle of the night.

Anxiety

White-knuckled moments,
Rapid eye movements,
Too many measuring cups,
Not enough trust.
The list is smeared,
The counter a mess,
I spent too much time
And I made too much fuss.

Into the bowl, now,
The shell breaks apart,
And it’s pooling, impossible,
Spoiled.
If I can’t do this properly,
What do I have?
I have after-dinner plans,
Foiled.

I wanted you to be a cake.
I wanted you to turn out great.
But my hands are in charge of
The recipe I make,
Not my wants or desires,
Just the skill that I claim —
Put to the test
Like an amateur chef,
Motherfucker, will someone
Take over this mess?

I don’t want to bake anymore.
I don’t want to make this cake anymore.
I wanted a taste,
And I thought I could take it,
But not every meal
Deserves a dessert,
And I think that means this time,
For what it’s not worth.
I’ve screwed it all up,
It will taste just like dirt,
And I don’t want to cause
This confectionery hurt.
I don’t want to bake anymore.

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She (Part Four)

She held her breath
To keep the fire alight, let it grow
But it grew — it consumed —
And she didn’t even know.
She was charmed by the light, and ignored the catchfire,
Tried to warm her hands in the heat of desire.

Now this breath she releases —
She now sees the reasons —
She’s here, still alive,
But she finds she’s in pieces.
Still fittable, still doable, it’s a puzzle, she knows,
But we see her surprise, as she thought she was whole.

Better now than at the end of your rope,
Better now than with any more growth.
Dear, you’ll find in your pain a strength, and a hope;
Just don’t look back, back is nowhere to go.
Let your feet move you forward,
Take your time, take it slow.

She’s scared, she’s confused,
She’s embarrassed, she’s bruised,
But she’s there, and she’s moved
To continue, be new
She will light up the world on her own set of terms,
And her flame will keep flowing, that old flame will burn.
And the breath she releases will help her discern,
This light that remains
Will be only hers.

This Will Only Help Me Move On

I used to think
I could only trust myself.
Anything else
Was just inevitable heartbreak,
Everyone else had their interests in mind,
And the only eyes watching my back
Were mine.

Trust is such a terrible thing.
It leads you into submission,
Waving its rattle to distract
And all in due time, striking and hissing.
Trust is not a guarantee of safety,
It’s a fallback for foolish people.
It’s a thing you do when you don’t understand,
But it can’t be a thing that a person demands —
It just proves who is weak,
And who has the upper hand.

The only thing you can really trust
Is that no one’s perfect,
No one’s got their act together,
No one knows what the hell they’re doing,
Everyone’s just making things up as they go along,

And maybe that’s my problem.
I choose to believe that people are trying,
I choose to believe that people aren’t lying,
I choose to believe that the people I trust
Will not pull away, try to hide their disgust.

Maybe I don’t see the big picture,
Maybe if I tilt my head and squint my eyes,
My world would get a little richer.

Or maybe I should keep them shut,
Go back to bed and hope sleep is enough,
Because dealing with nightmares is not quite as rough
As watching the dreams you have get swallowed up
By a tongue that asks mercy
And in the same breath,
Puts the words it spoke to soothe
To a slow, withering death.

Don’t lie to me, I see your pain,
But lying only spreads it.
If you want to find out who you are,
Then take the time – you said it.
But don’t tell me you need to be
Alone in this discovery,
“It isn’t you, you’re great, it’s me,”
Then turn around immediately
And find yourself some company.
I used to think I could only trust myself…
I still think that.

Birds are singing,
Squirrels chasing squirrels.
I nod my greetings to my neighbors.
And the shining sun
Makes the river reflect —
The world glitters around me.
Heat on my back,
Color reaching my cheeks.
The breeze plays games
With my skin,
Loose strands of hair floating and falling
On the back of my neck.
The world is in perfect order —
Happy inhabitants,
Hot day.
Then why do I feel so cold?

She, Part Three

She is used to feeling this:
Happiness is a faster heartbeat, picking up speed
To match the rhythm of her anxiety–
Acceptance at this irony:
That is what it means to be happy.

She thinks she has it all figured out,
All she has to do is match the rhythm
Of her feet to her heart,
And keep herself far apart–
No need for her heart to take any more beatings.

She’s heard (how absurd)
That joy and pain
Have two different wavelengths,
That you can experience one
Without slogging through the other,
That this is not how it’s supposed to feel.
Panic is not a given,
And hope is not forlorn.
And when a heartbeat dies,
The next one’s born.
There’s so much to burn
From what you learned before.
Set your priorities straight, sweetheart,
And the world will start
To form.

Pain and hope,
And struggle and rote–
When she begins to see how different
These things can be,
Maybe she will be able to experience them
Individually.

But for now,
She’s stuck in the rhythm she taught herself,
Frail and faint,
But hard as hell.
She knows if she slows,
There are those she can match,
Two hearts beating — who knows if it’ll last,
But if it feels like it might be happiness,
That…
Is something she’s not used to feeling.